What is Anxiety?
Everyone has felt a little anxious at some time point in their lives. In fact, some degree of anxiety is perfectly normal! Both children and adults may suffer from routine anxiety which is often brought on by physical situations. These situations can range from the first day of school to job interviews, flying on an airplane or common anxiety felt on your wedding day.
Different types of anxiety disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by apprehension or excessive anxiety about everyday life issues. This anxiety is usually very difficult to control or stop and people with this type of anxiety disorder often find themselves being in a constant state of worry.
Panic Disorder is a type of anxiety disorder characterized by the experience of at least three panic attacks in a three week period under circumstances not involving physical exertion or life threatening events.
- Panic Attack is a physiological response to fear or sudden anxiety. The object of the fear can be either physical (like a spider) or an event (fear of flying, fear of heart attack or dying) or it can be to an imagined situation or event. For many sufferers panic attacks occur without an apparent trigger, they just ‘happen’ despite your efforts to curtail them, and this causes a great deal of distress and anxiety.
When a fear severely impairs a person’s ability to function properly, they would be diagnosed as having a phobia. A phobia is characterized by an irrational fear of a specific object or situation that interferes with an individual’s ability to function.
Social Anxiety Disorder, also known as Social Phobia, can cause intense and unreasonable fear of social or performance situations. They often feel that they will be judged by others or will do something to embarrass or humiliate themselves.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
OCD is characterized by compulsive actions, practices and thoughts which are experienced to such an extent that they interfere significantly with the wellbeing of the individual.
Stress Disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Post-traumatic Stress or PTSD is a disorder that arises sometime after a traumatic event in which the person felt intense fear, helplessness or horror.
and, Anxiety Disorders due to known physical causes
It is important to remember that fear and anxiety are not the same.
Fear is a direct, focused response to a specific event or object, and the person is consciously aware of it. Most people will feel fear if someone points a loaded gun at them or if they see a tornado forming on the horizon. They also will recognize that they are afraid.
Anxiety, on the other hand, is often unfocused, vague, and hard to pin down to a specific cause. This may be because the anxious individual is not consciously aware of the original source of the feeling. In this form it is called free-floating anxiety. An individual observing the anxious person from the outside may be truly puzzled as to the reason for the person’s anxiety. Anxiety is difficult to describe concretely because it has so many different potential causes and degrees of intensity.
It is also important to distinguish between anxiety as a feeling or experience, and an anxiety disorder as a diagnosed condition. A person may feel anxious without having an anxiety disorder. Similarly, a person facing a clear and present danger or a realistic fear is not usually considered to be in a state of anxiety.